Lady Grizz drop two at state tournament

By: 
David Peck

It was a short stay at the Class 2A State Tournament for the Rocky Mountain Lady Grizzlies this year, as the Lady Grizz struggled to produce points against a pair of strong defensive opponents.
Rocky fell to top-ranked, East Region number one seed and eventual state champion Tongue River 37-26 Thursday morning at Casper College and to West Region second seed Kemmerer 46-26 Friday morning at the Ford Wyoming Center.
Rocky head coach Justin Moss said the Lady Grizz came into Thursday’s opener believing they could beat Tongue River, having fallen to the Lady Eagles by nine points, 46-37, on February 2 in Dayton.
“One of our goals was to limit their offensive rebounds,” Moss said. “It was our emphasis to do this, especially with (Chaney) Reish, who is one of the top offensive rebounders in the state. We actually did a really good job of that, limiting second-chance points.
“They’re a long and athletic team, and they run a switching man (defense) that makes it difficult to score. Both teams we played, as soon as the posts caught it on the block, we got double-teamed. That limited some of the things we wanted to do. It was tough to score.”
Rocky hung with TR in the first half, trailing 7-6 after the first quarter and 14-10 at halftime, but the Lady Grizz couldn’t buy a basket in a third quarter that saw Tongue River outscore Rocky 14-1 to lead 28-11 after three.
“In the third, we struggled to get things going,” Moss said. “(McKinlee) Scammon hit a couple threes, and they started getting some offensive rebounds. We were a little bit slower to close out, but the big thing was the offensive
rebounds, which led to some kickout threes.
“They led 30-11 early in the fourth, and we went on a 10-0 run (to trail 30-21). We were able to pressure them a little more and trapped them. Our defense led to offense. We just ran out of time.”
Rocky outscored Tongue River 15-9 in the final quarter to cut the final margin to 11 points, 37-26.
“We adjusted our offense and went to more pick and rolls and moved the posts to the high post, which allowed Lauren (Bassett) to get going more,” Moss said.
Bassett scored 10 of her team-leading 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“We played hard,” Moss said. “We felt if we won that game, we’d be in the state championship. I truly felt we could beat that team since we were close at Tongue River and were (now) playing better basketball. We had stretches of doing really good things and stretches of not closing out or rebounding.
“We played two of the toughest defensive teams in the state, and it was tough to score. We played good defense ourselves but weren’t able to score enough. To hold them to 37 points is pretty good.”
Tongue River went on to beat Pine Bluffs 41-32 and Lingle 46-43 in the state championship game. Lingle had defeated Wind River 48-32 and Wyoming Indian 68-51 before the state title game.
Rocky shot 30 percent from the field against Tongue River and was 0-8 from three-point range and 4-10 from the free throw line.
After Bassett’s 12 points, Shelby Wambeke scored 6 points, Brittly Boettcher 4, Tarynn Schoening and MacKelle Moss 2 apiece. Bassett also had seven rebounds, Wambeke four rebounds and two assists, Moss three rebounds and three blocked shots, Keylee Christiansen four rebounds and three assists and Schoening three rebounds and three steals.
Kemmerer loss
Having to play an early-morning game at the state tournament is always a tough task, and the Lady Grizzlies were sluggish against Kemmerer in game one (9 a.m.) of the Friday schedule at the Ford Wyoming Center.
The Lady Grizz were solid in the first half but were outscored by 20 points in the second half.
“We didn’t bring the juice,” Moss said. “We were slow with things. It was kind of a disjointed game. We ended up with four starters in foul trouble – MacKelle, Brittly, Shelby and Lauren (Bassett and Wambeke fouled out). That was the lowest minutes (20) MacKelle played all year.
“I didn’t like how the game was officiated. In the full court they allowed their guards to body us up and be physical, but if we were physical in the post they would call a foul. It was backwards (from normal practice). They shot 31 free throws. We shot 16.”
Rocky started slow out of the gate and trailed 10-4 after the first quarter but outscored Kemmerer 11-5 in the second quarter as Boettcher hit three of four at the line, Bassett knocked down a baseline jumper and free throw for a three-point play and hit a turnaround jumper later. Schoening added a bucket on a steal by Wambeke and a free throw.
Kemmerer outscored Rocky 15-6 in the third quarter to lead 30-21. The Rangers scored the first 11 points of the quarter to build a 26-15 lead. Rocky went on a 6-2 mini-run to cut the deficit to seven as Wambeke converted a steal into a three-point play and Bassett executed a spinning drive. But a last second steal and bucket by the Rangers seemed to take the wind out of the sails for the Grizzlies as they trailed by nine after three and could never mount a comeback.
Kemmerer built the lead to 15 points, and after a trey by Boettcher, the Rangers closed the game with an 8-0 run, hitting eight of 12 free throws in the final 2:40.
“I think the key was a three from the corner (by Ella Thatcher) midway through the third and that late turnover,” Moss said. “We didn’t battle back after that. The Skidmore girl (Janae) played well, and it didn’t hurt that she went to the line 14 times (on the way to 19 points).
“We shot 19 percent from the field. It wasn’t meant to be.”
Boettcher and Bassett scored 8 points each for the Lady Grizz, Schoening and Wambeke 3 apiece and Kaysie Cooley and Christiansen 2 apiece. Boettcher snared six rebounds, Wambeke 5 and Moss and Bassett four apiece.
The game was the final contest for seniors Moss and Rylee Winland. The Lady Grizz finished the season 16-12.

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